Article: ‘Thomas Hobbes, D.D.: Theology, Orthodoxy, and History’

Jonathan Sheehan: ‘Thomas Hobbes, D.D.: Theology, Orthodoxy, and History’, Journal of Modern History, 88 (2016), pp. 249-74.

Extract:  ‘[W]as Thomas Hobbes—the most scandalous political philosopher of the seventeenth century and possibly of the entire early modern period—a theologian? I approach this question historiographically, because in the past century it has become possible to think of Hobbes as not just a Christian, but an orthodox one as well. Hobbesian philosophy actually is theology, in this view, and, for some, an orthodox theology at that. Tracing the emergence of this possibility nicely illuminates some of the challenges that theology can pose to a secular intellectual history. I also approach the question more interpretively and consider how Hobbes’s own work, and specifically his Leviathan, might offer direction to intellectual historians looking for new ways to think about theology.’